Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

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Biblical theology is presented to pastors as a practical, everyday tool. Pastors and church leaders will benefit from a careful examination of a foundation for biblical theology that leads to rich application in ministry. Part of the IXMarks series.

Text of Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

  • Michael Lawrence has provided us with a masterly study that relates bi


    theology to systematics, and then applies both to the ministry of the chur

    ch. It

    is thorough without being overly technical, making it accessible to anyon

    e who

    wants to be a better preacher or teacher of the Bible.

    GraemeGoldsworthy, Visiting Lecturer in Hermeneutics, Moore Theolog


    cal College, Sydney, Australia

    This clearly written and compelling volume envisions afresh the work of

    pastor-theologians. I believe that Biblical Theology in the Life of the Churc

    h will

    certainly be one of the most important books for pastors and theologians


    read this year.

    DavidS.Dockery,President, Union University

    This work is a succinct, readable manual on the right application of the


    line of the whole Bible to the common issues of daily life that pastors will


    tably face as they minister in the twenty-first century. It is a valuable addi

    tion to

    the library of any pastor who yearns to see Gods Word bear fruit for eter


    AndrewDavis, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Durham, North Carolina

    For anyone who believes that theology needs the church and the churc

    h needs

    theology, this will be a welcome resource. For anyone playing with the ide

    a, it

    will be a compelling one.

    MichaelHorton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and

    Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

    Michael Lawrences unshakable commitment to propositional revelatio


    and to the centrality of the Bible in church ministry, and his unflinch-

    ing belief that God works by his Word, are a great foil to much

    theology in vogue in the church today.

    GrantJ.Retief, Rector, Christ Church, Umhlanga,

    Durban, South Africa

    MICHAELLAWRENCE is associate pastor of Capitol Hill Bap-

    tist Church in Washington DC. He earned a PhD in church history

    from Cambridge University and an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell

    Theological Seminary. Lawrence is coauthor, with Mark Dever, of It

    Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement.


  • Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry

    Copyright 2010 by Michael Lawrence

    Published by Crossway 1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, Illinois 60187

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval sys-tem, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, except as provided for by USA copyright law.

    Cover design: Tobias Outerwear for Books

    First printing 2010

    Printed in the United States of America

    Unless otherwise indicated, scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The NIV and New International Version trademarks are regis-tered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Biblica.

    Scripture quotations marked esv are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture quotations marked hcsb have been taken from The Holman Christian Standard Bible. Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.

    All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added by the author.

    Trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-4335-1508-8

    PDF ISBN: 978-1-4335-1509-5

    Mobipocket ISBN: 978-1-4335-1510-1

    ePub ISBN: 978-1-4335-2463-9

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataLawrence, Michael, 1966 Biblical theology in the life of the church : a guide for ministry / Michael Lawrence. p. cm. ISBN: 978-1-4335-1508-8 (tpb) I. BibleTheology. 2. TheologyMethodology. 3. Pastoral theology. I. Title.BS543.W38 2010230'.041dc22 2009036659

    Crossway is a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.VP 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10

    15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    BiblicalTheologyLC.15088.i04.indd 6 3/5/10 12:18 PM

  • Contents

    Foreword 11

    Preface 13

    Acknowledgments 21

    Introduction: The Text to Be Examined 23

    S E C T I O N O N E

    The Tools That Are Needed

    1 Exegetical Tools: Grammatical-Historical Method 37

    2 Biblical Theology Tools 1: Covenants, Epochs, 53 and Canon

    3 Biblical Theology Tools 2: Prophecy, Typology, 69 and Continuity

    4 Biblical and Systematic Theology: Do We Really 85 Need Both?

    5 Systematic Theology Tools: How and Why to 99 Think Theologically

    S E C T I O N T W O

    The Stories to Be Told

    6 The Story of Creation 115

    7 The Story of the Fall 129

    8 The Story of Love 141

    9 The Story of Sacrifice 153

    10 The Story of Promise 165

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  • S E C T I O N T H R E E

    Putting It Together for the Church

    11 Preaching and Teaching (Case Studies) 179

    12 Biblical Theology and the Local Church 199

    Epilogue 215

    For Further Reading 219

    Scripture Index 221

    General Index 229

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  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

    The Text to Be Examined

    A s church leaders, you and I are faced with problems and questions every day that require us to turn to the Bible for answers, guidance, and wisdom. Along with prayer, the Bible is the most important and the most fundamental tool weve been given for the work of pastoral minis-try. If youve been doing ministry for any length of time, youve probably grown quite familiar with this tool. You know your way around all sixty-six books. You have favorite passages you turn to again and againthe twenty-third Psalm for hospital visits, Romans 8 for the discouraged and hard-pressed Christian, John 3 for evangelistic conversations, Nehemiah for lessons on leadership, Isaiah 6 for the young person considering a call to ministry. You wouldnt dream of walking into a church meeting or a hospital room without a Bible in hand.

    But for all your familiarity with the Bible, when was the last time you thought about what this powerful tool is that youre holding in your hand? Sure, its a collection of sixty-six inspired books. And yes, it records for us the history of ancient Israel, the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the founding of the Christian church. But, taken as a whole rather than in individual parts, how do you answer the question, What is the Bible?

    The Importance of DefinitionsThe answer Im really concerned with isnt the one you learned in seminary or Sunday school, but your working answer. Im asking how you use the Bible day in and day out in your ministry because that will show you and me what you really think the Bible is.1

    1In putting it this way, I am not meaning to imply that function determines meaning or authority. Post-liberals (for one example, see George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984]) have argued that the Bible is Scripture because it func-tions that way in the church. But in contrast to that view, the point of this book is that precisely because the Bible is the inspired and inerrant record of Gods redemptive activity in history, revealing his purposes and his character, it should function for us as both normative and sufficient Scripture. Functionality for ministry therefore arises from and is constrained by ontology, not the other way around.

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  • 24 Introduction

    For example, when I pick up a hammer, I dont think of it in the techni-cal terms of its material construction or component parts. I think of it as something that will help me drive a nail into a wall, and use it accordingly. On the other hand, I have chopsticks scattered all over my house, but I dont always think of them as eating utensils. It turns out they are just the right size to release the locks on bedroom and bathroom doors when one of my younger children has accidently locked himself or herself in. Functionally, those chopsticks have become keys, regardless of their proper definition.

    Its no different with the Bible. Regardless of the correct definition, your working definition will determine how you use it. Sometimes that means youll use it as intended, the way I use a hammer. But sometimes that means youll misuse it, the way I misuse chopsticks. And while no real harm comes from my misuse of chopsticks, we all know that real harm can result from the misusethe misapplicationof a tool as powerful as the Bible.

    Two Possible AnswersSo what is the Bible? My own churchs statement of faith provides one possible answer, one that I think many of us tend to use. In our very first article of faith, we affirm that the Bible is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction, that it reveals principles by which God will judge us, and therefore is the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.2 I think every single one of those statements is true, but notice their emphasis. The Bible is a collection of instructions, principles, and standards. To put it in more colloquial terms, the Bible is an answer book for lifes problems or a compendium of principles by which to live and die. But is this definition adequate for ministry?

    Lets take that definition of the Bible and apply it to a question the elders of my church recen